Although it took me about 45 minutes to find a stretch of water that hadn’t already been claimed by other anglers, I did eventually find a spot. If I remember correctly, I hadn’t been fishing since May of 2017. For somebody who used to fish 300+ times per year, that is a drastic change!
I was spin fishing with little spinners. On this particular stretch of this particular river, I’ve found that if I use spinners, I always connect with some fish. Flies have worked sometimes but not as consistently. I wondered if the spinners would be too quick for the fish in the frigid water, but pretty soon I noticed some follows and eventually landed my first fish of the year.
I fished leisurely, thoroughly enjoying the fresh air, the warm sun, and the excitement of connecting with more fish.
The river, as always, was stunningly picturesque. Although the banks were mostly bare, brown, and grey, the colorful rocks in the stream were a joy to see.
After fishing my way through the first stretch, I headed down a wooded path to explore a new one. From the road this portion of river seemed deep and slow, but just around the bend the stream quickened and became more trout-friendly.
The banks, however, were decidedly human unfriendly.
I crawled over a stack of downed limbs, then crouched on a thin perch of sand a few feet over the river. I tossed my spinner into some dark and promising water. There was a flash, and there was a fish!
It was a challenge to get the fish to my net, as I was wholly on the shore and there was a giant tree trunk, parallel to the shore, between us.
But get it to the net I did! My stomach grumbled as I thought about pan fried trout with ramps. I didn’t mention anything about that though, out of respect for the fish. No need to add insult to injury, or in this case, death.
I measured it, bonked it on the head with a piece of wood I carry for that purpose, then slid it into my creel.
Yes, nature is cruel, but we all gotta eat.
I fished for a while longer, getting many follows from what looked like more brown trout. I would certainly be revisiting this stretch.
Soon it was time to head back home. I climbed up the bank, trout in my creel, a spring in my step. As I hiked back to the truck I took note of all the marvelous little things along the way.
An adorable bird’s nest (I assume):
Violets (I think):
The smallest patch of ramps I’ve ever seen:
At home I quickly butterflied the fish, my favorite trout-cleaning method. You’re left with a flat, pretty much boneless fish that is perfect for pan frying, stuffing, or any number of other preparations. I used a pair of scissors and my brand new Opinel No. 8 pocket knife.
There is something unique about every trout I’ve ever kept from this particular stream: their meat smells like peaches! At first I thought this was due to their diet at certain times of the year, but I’ve caught and kept some throughout the season… And they always smell like peaches.
Interestingly, once it’s cooked the peach smell completely disappears. It’s a shame eating freshwater sushi is so ill-advised, otherwise I bet these would be absolutely delicious.
Once I finished butterflying the fish I slipped it into a ziplock bag. I went about the rest of my day knowing that I’d be enjoying a meal of fresh trout very soon.